July 1, 2010

Visitors Center

The Visitors Center on the John Wood mansion campus at 425 South 12th Street houses the Society headquarters, historical library, and audio visual and group meeting room.

The Historical Society's extensive library features many important books and documents on early life in Quincy and Adams County. These include city directories, city and county histories, and other original resources for research.

The library was enhanced in 2003 with the expansion of the Visitors Center, creating and additional second story room for the library collection.

The library is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 2pm, and is available to Society members and researchers.

Quincy's History Shop, located in the Visitors Center, offers Quincy souvenirs and original hand-crafted selections from local artisians reminiscent of the 19th century. Here you can find postcards, books about local history and architechure, framed art, and decorative items.

Call (217) 222-1835 for more information.

Quincy Station

Read about the history of Quincy rail stations, including the Amtrak Station, at

Quincy Preserves

The mission of Quincy Preserves, Inc., is to foster awareness of and to promote appreciation of the historic architecture of Quincy, Illinois, and Adams County and to encourage active membership involvement in the recognizing, protecting, maintaining, and displaying of these structures. Starting as an outgrowth of the Quincy Society of Fine Arts in the mid 1970’s, Quincy Preserves has encouraged owners of historically and architecturally significant structures to restore and maintain them to their original condition. Since that time many homes and buildings have been preserved. This movement continues throughout the entire city.

Engine House No. 4, now home to Craig Industries.

Paul Tibbetts

Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. was born in Quincy, Illinois on February 23rd, 1915 to Paul & Enola Gay Tibbets. On August 5th, 1945, Tibbets piloted the B-29 Enola Gay to Hiroshima and dropped the world’s first atomic bomb. In 1943 after flying B-17 missions over Europe, Tibbets was assigned to test the combat capability of the B-29. In 1944, Tibbets was assigned to the secret Manhattan Project. His responsibility was to organize and train a unit to deliver these weapons in combat operations and modify the B-29, leading up to his mission as commander of the famous Enola Gay flight. He served in the Strategic Air Command, served a tour with NATO, and was responsible for establishing the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon. Paul Tibbets is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Visit the Official Website of General Paul W. Tibbets

1835 Pioneer Log Cabin

The 1835 Pioneer Log Cabin is preserved and refurbished authentically. It is the focal point of the Society's efforts to educate younger students about the history of early Quincy and Adams County. Programs for 3rd grade Adams County students began in Spring 2003. Students are guided by costumed interpreters through a 4-part learning program highlighting pre-settlement life in Adams County, Pioneer Life from 1835, Craft Demonsrations and Authentic Pioneer Garden.

Back when Illinois became a state...

The Illinois Territory was created on February 3, 1809, with its capital at Kaskaskia. In May 1812, an act of Congress was passed which set aside bounty lands as payment to volunteer soldiers for the War against the British (War of 1812). The land was set aside in western territories that became part of the present states of Arkansas, Michigan and Illinois. On December 3rd, 1818, Illinois became the 21st U.S. state. The new state debated slavery, finally rejecting it, as settlers poured into southern Illinois from Kentucky.

The Illinois tract, surveyed in 1815-1816, contained more than 5 million acres, of which 3,50 million were deemed fit for cultivation and set aside for military bounties. Comprising 207 entire townships, each 6 miles square, and 61 fractional townships, the tract included present Illinois counties of Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Mercer, Peoria, Pike, Schuyler, Stark, and Warren Counties.

The newspaper Illinois Bounty Land Register, first published in 1835, to advertise lands granted to veterans, is one of the ancestors of the current Quincy Herald-Whig newspaper.

John Wood Mansion Floor Plans

The Governor John Wood Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mansion is also recognized by historians and architects as one of the Midwest’s finest existing examples of Greek Revival architecture. Among the mansion's furnishings are many personal items which belonged to the Wood family, and objects recalling Adams County's early days.

History of the John Wood Mansion

John Wood was born in Moravia, New York on December 20, 1798. His father, Daniel was a surgeon during the Revolutionary War. At the age of 20, John decided he wanted to go west into the frontier. He settled at Atlas, IL about 40 miles south of Quincy, and started to farm.

The land between the Illinois and Mississippi River was Bounty Land. As part of the Illinois Military Tract, this was land given to veterans who fought in the War of 1812. There was 1,400,000 acres of land in the Military Tract and the government was anxious for people to settle there. In 1822, a Mr. Flinn who had been a soldier had received 160 acres of Bounty Land. As Mr. Flinn was traveling northward to locate his land, he met John Wood. Wood decided to go with Flinn to see his land. Flinn did not want to live so far from St. Louis and agreed to sell the land to Wood for $60.00. This was about 38 cents an acre. John Wood built his first house, a log cabin at the foot of Delaware Street near the river. His cabin was 18 feet by 20 feet and only one room.As more settlers came into the area, he met Ann Streeter. They were married in 1826 and John built his second log cabin at 12th & State (west side). It was two stories and much larger than the first. John was acquiring land that soldiers from the East did not want and was selling it to farmers coming from Kentucky and Tennessee and making a profit.By 1835, John started building a Mansion at 12th & State next to the log cabin. It took three years to build it, from 1835-1838. He had gone to St. Louis and New Orleans and gotten German immigrants that were craftsmen (carpenters, bricklayers, stone masons, plasterers, etc.) to construct this Greek Revival style house.John Wood was a very well liked man and was elected mayor of Quincy three different times. In 1856, he was elected Lt. Governor of the State of Illinois.

While he was Lt. Governor, John started building an even larger house in the middle of the block on State Street between 11th & 12th. This was an Octagonal building (eight sided) and would take six years to build.Unfortunately, during this time, Governor Bissell died and John became the Governor. The year was 1860. John petitioned the Illinois Legislature asking if he could stay in Quincy to oversee the construction of his new home. They agreed, and his Greek Revival style house became the Governor’s Mansion for the State of Illinois. That is its historical significance. John Wood was Governor for only ten months (until the term ran out). He did not seek re-election because of commitments in Quincy.In 1861, the Civil War broke out and Wood was named Quartermaster General of the State of Illinois. A quartermaster is a person who secures goods for the army such as blankets, food, ammunition, horses, and other items. Wood is 63 years old at this time.In 1863, Ann, his wife of 37 years died. They had had eight children, but only four of them lived to adulthood – a daughter and three sons.

When John’s Octagonal house was completed in 1864, he gave the Greek Revival style house to his oldest son, Daniel. John wanted it moved to the east side of 12th Street. What had been an apple orchard was now changed to a yard. The house was cut in half and the chimneys were taken down so the house could be moved across the street. John also had an Osage Orange hedge along the street that he did not want to cut down. He had the movers to make a 12 foot high ramp over the hedge. It took 20 teams of horses to move each half of the house across the street. Logs were used to roll the house along. Originally the house faced the south (as was the norm for Greek Revival style houses – they could take advantage of the summer breezes better). When the house was moved, the foundation was cut so the house now faces the west.

John lived in his Octagonal house on one side of 12th Street and his son Daniel lived on the other. His Octagonal house had cost over $200,000 to build. It was the most expensive house in Illinois at the time. In 1873, the country had an economic downturn and many people lost a lot of money. John had not paid off all the debts for the construction of his new house and his creditors wanted their money. It became necessary for Wood to sell his new home for $40,000. John and his second wife, Mary Ann Holmes (married in 1863) moved into the Greek Revival style house with his son Daniel in 1875. John spent the last five years of his life in this house. John died in the Mansion on June 4, 1880. After John’s death, Daniel sold the Mansion and moved to Galena, Kansas. The house became a boarding house with many different families living in its various rooms. In 1906, some businesses on the corner of 12th & State wanted to tear the building down so they could have an alley put in through the block. This would have been through the middle of the meeting room.

The Historical Society purchased the house to save it from destruction. At first they used it as a museum with many people going through it. Unfortunately, they did not have the money to maintain it very well and by the early 1970’s the house was in disrepair. At that time, the Historical Society decided to restore the house to its original look.To date over $500,000 has been spent on restoring the house.

Become a Member!

The Historical Society of Quincy & Adams County extends an eager invitation to friends, neighbors, scholars and all other history buffs to join our growing membership roster and help us build a strong constituency as we begin our second century of public service.

The Society continues to develop new programs and expand its facilities, as well as create interest and community involvement in local history. We welcome your input and assistance in meeting the Society’s mission.

• Collect & Preserve Historical Items
• Continue Restoration & Maintenance of the Governor John Wood Mansion
• Preserve the 1835 Pioneer Log Cabin & The History Museum
• Develop Educational Programs for the Public & Adams County Students

• Special Events and Programs
• Annual Christmas Preview Party
• Use of the Society's Reference Library
• Free Admission to Tours
• 10% Discount at Quincy's History Shop
• Periodic Newsletter

Download, print, fill out, and mail in the Society membership form below. Or, call the Society office (222-1835) to request a form be sent to you.

Historical Society Membership Form;


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Our Mission...

The Society’s mission is to provide for the education of its members and other local residents about the history of Quincy, Adams County, and the surrounding area. The society is committed to the collection and preservation of documents and other physical objects related to local history. Preserving and maintaining the governor John Wood Mansion as a historic and architectural structure is a key priority of the Society.

Washington Park, 1853

Washington Park prior to Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Quincy, 1853.

Welcome to the Historical Society of Quincy & Adams County's Official Blog.

A work in progress!